India to join search for missing Indonesian submarine

The Indian Navy on Thursday dispatched a deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) to help the Indonesian Navy with its search and rescue efforts for a submarine that went missing on April 21 with a crew of 53 personnel, the navy said.

The Indonesian submarine Nanggala went missing north of Bali on Wednesday morning. India is the third country after Singapore and Malaysia to join the rescue effort, with the United States, Australia and France also making offers to help.

“On 21 April, an alert was received by Indian Navy through International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office (ISMERLO), regarding the missing Indonesian submarine,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The Indonesian Navy on Thursday said that the missing German-built submarine has enough oxygen for 72 hours during a power blackout.

The Indian Navy’s DSRV system can locate a submarine up to 1,000 metres underwater using its modern side-scan sonar and remotely operated vehicle.

“After the submarine is successfully located, another sub module of the DSRV — the submarine rescue vehicle (SRV) — mates with the submarine to rescue the trapped personnel. The SRV can also be used to provide emergency supplies to the submarine,” the statement added. India is among the few countries capable of undertaking search and rescue of a disabled submarine through a DSRV.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh is in touch with his Indonesian counterpart.

“Spoke to the Defence Minister of Indonesia, General Prabowo Subianto over the phone and shared my pain over the news of missing submarine Nanggala and its crew members. India is extending its full support to the ongoing Indonesian rescue efforts,” Singh tweeted on Thursday.

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The Indian DSRV, being ferried by offshore supply vessel Sabarmati, could take almost a week to reach the location, which is 2,500 nautical miles away, people familiar with the development said. India is looking at the possibility of using its air force for speedier assistance.

Singh wrote on Twitter that he has tasked the Indian Air Force to examine the feasibility of induction of the DSRV intervention system by air.

“Under the framework of comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Indonesia, Indian Navy and Indonesian Navy share a strong partnership of operational cooperation. The two navies have been exercising regularly in the past and have developed synergy and interoperability which is considered important for the present mission,” the navy statement said.

The Indian Navy inducted its first DSRV in 2018 and the second one the following year. The vessels were delivered under a £193-million contract awarded to JFD, a Scotland-based leading underwater capability provider, in March 2016.

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